Margolese National Design for Living Prize

The Margolese National Design for Living Prize celebrates and inspires exceptional impact on living environments benefitting all Canadians.

Created by a generous estate gift made to the University of British Columbia by Leonard Herbert Margolese, it awards annually an unrestricted $50,000 prize to a Canadian who has shown extraordinary talent and dedication to make Canada a better place to live.

The prize acknowledges and supports recipients’ contributions to the development or improvement of living environments for Canadians of all economic classes. Recipients may be architects, landscape architects, urban planners, engineers, public artists, policy makers, entrepreneurs, community activists or those in other fields. They may use their award to advance their expertise or, if they wish, pursue entirely new endeavours.


2015 – Cornelia Hahn Oberlander

Recognized as a national treasure in Canada, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander has been creating innovative landscapes for over 60 years, collaborating as landscape architect on a wide range of projects with noted internationally acclaimed architects. She devoted her early professional years to designing landscapes for low-cost housing projects and playgrounds throughout Canada. She has also designed the iconic landscapes of the UBC Museum of Anthropology, Robson Square in Vancouver and Ottawa’s National Gallery.
Cornelia has been recognized globally for her exemplary work. She has received 12 honorary degrees and was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 2009, after being appointed member in 1990. She was awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Allied Medal in 1995, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects in 2006, the Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award, the International Federation of Landscape Architects’ premier award, in 2011, and the ASLA Medal, the most prestigious award by the American Society of Landscape Architects, in 2012.

2014 – Vikram Bhatt, McGill University

Vikram Bhatt’s entire career has been focused upon improving the quality of living for those who may be seen as poor but who have human capital and great resourcefulness. In addition to his foundational work on housing in the developing world for over four decades, he has led the national initiative in urban agriculture in Canada, a project that has benefitted Canadians of all economic classes, particularly those in need of food.
He is considered a significant figure in Canadian architectural education, whose research, projects and publications have exerted great influence both inside the academy and in practice. Vikram has received numerous awards including an AD Architectural Design Research Award, an American Institute of Architects’ Sustainable Community Design Ideas Competition Prize, two Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute’s Faculty Research Fellowships and two Graham Foundation for the Fine Arts Grants. In 2008, his team won the National Urban Design Award of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Canadian Institute of Planners, and Canadian Society of Landscape Architects.

2013 – Bing Thom, Bing Thom Architects

Bing Thom, winner of the 2013 Margolese National Design for Living Prize, is one of Canada’s most admired and accomplished architects. Following his immigration from Hong Kong to Vancouver with his family, Bing pursued a Bachelor of Architecture degree from UBC and his Master of Architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Early in his career, he worked in the office of Fumihiko Maki in Tokyo, before returning to Canada to join the office of Arthur Erickson. In this position, Bing oversaw notable projects such as the Robson Square courthouse complex in Vancouver and the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto before establishing his own firm in the early 1980s.
Bing’s commitment to using architecture to improve the urban context and social condition has been recognized by a range of honours including the Order of Canada and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for outstanding contributions to architecture and the community. Dedicated to helping the next generation of architects, Bing is a popular lecturer in Canada and abroad and the privileged recipient of honorary degrees from SFU and UBC, and an honorary professorship from Tongji University in Shanghai. Most recently Bing received the 2011 RAIC Gold Medal, the highest honour awarded a Canadian architect.

2012 – Eric Miller, University of Toronto

For over 30 years, Eric Miller’s research into the interactions between humans, urban land use, transportation, and the environment has been on the cutting edge. His work in the modelling of vehicle emissions, pollutant dispersion, and their exposure to human populations has helped to develop a more comprehensive understanding of these fundamental urban planning issues. Currently, his Integrated Land Use, Transportation, and Environment model (ILUTE), considered a world-leading contribution to the science of urban simulation, continues to contribute to the increased sustainability of living environments both internationally and here in Canada.


Recipients must be Canadian citizens whose work actively contributes to the development or improvement of living environment for Canadians of all economic classes.

How Nominees and Recipients are Selected

A diverse pool of invited nominators proposes candidates from a broad range of fields appropriate to prize criteria.

A selection committee of nationally and internationally recognized experts relevant to the prize review and evaluate nominations. Each nomination is researched and considered with respect to prize selection criteria.

Nominators, selection committee members and administrators of the prize serve anonymously. Nominations and selection processes are confidential. This policy ensures that nominations are fairly and frankly assessed without outside influence.

The prize no longer accepts applications or unsolicited nominations.